Child evangelism group and sponsor of 'Good News Clubs' reaches milestone with 100,000 'Boxes of Books'
On June 20, 2012 At 12:36 am
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Child Evangelism Fellowship® (CEF) describes itself as "a Bible-centered, worldwide organization that is dedicated to seeing every child reached with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, discipled and established in a local church." CEF believes that the Christian bible "is inerrant in the original writing and that its teaching and authority are absolute, supreme and final" and that "the supreme mission of the people of God in this age is to preach the Gospel to every creature. That special emphasis should be placed upon the evangelization of children."
Boxes of Books Milestone Reached with 75th Anniversary.
In a press release announcing its 75th anniversary and the 100,000th "Box of Books," CEF claimed that last year it reached over 12 million children worldwide in 180 countries and territories around the world. The "Boxes of Books" program has received over $5 million in charitable donations since its creation in May 1999. The program was created to meet what CEF says was a pressing need:
In many of these emerging countries, there were thousands of nationals being trained as teachers by CEF and who were eager to evangelize and disciple children locally in Good News Clubs, but they lacked the funds to purchase the CEF curriculum to do so. Through Boxes of Books, CEF printed the curriculum at its headquarters in Warrenton, Missouri, then shipped boxes of the curriculum for free to the CEF workers abroad. The colorful, high-quality visuals of Bible lessons that make up the curriculum make the gospel come alive for children.
Good News Clubs Upsetting Christian and Other Religious/Non-Religious Parents.
The Good News Clubs have come under scrutiny lately, particularly through the work of Katherine Stewart, journalist and author. Lessons include Biblical justification for the genocide of non-believers and imply that other forms of Christianity are wrong. Christian and other religious groups in the Seattle, Washington, area recently voiced concerns that the Good News Clubs turn various religious groups against each other.
Stewart, who has authored The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children voiced her concern about CEF's agenda with Sean Faircloth of the Richard Dawkins Foundation (see video embedded below). Among other things, Stewart and Faircloth noted:
- When religious groups insert themselves in public schools, the consciousnesses of religious differences among school children are sharpened, which is not in the spirit of the Establishment Clause and the 2001 Supreme Court decision allowing Good News Clubs to operate in American schools. The justices who dissented in the 2001 case were Republicans.
- Religion is more than just speech, given the benefits they receive, such as exclusion from taxes.
- Good News Clubs, as characterized as separate from regular school activities, have had the effect of being a part of school activities because they are held in classrooms and some are taught by public school teachers, who tell children that if they do not believe in Jesus, they are going to hell. There is a bleeding of authority in children's minds because some Good News Club teachers are also classroom teachers.
- Children are encouraged to let other children know that they will be cut off from God and thrown into the lake of fire if they are not the right kind of Christian. The CEF statement of faith states, "That the souls of the lost remain after death in misery until the final judgment of the great white throne, when soul and body reunited at the resurrection shall be cast 'Into the lake of fire' which is 'the second death,' to be 'punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.'"
- Good News Clubs teach absolute obedience as the criteria for salvation, not good works.
- Minority faith groups are excluded and have nowhere near the power of the Good News Clubs. Parents do not receive adequate notice of the nature of the Good News Clubs.
- Parents have signed their kids up to Good News Clubs and their children come home, telling them that they are not going to the right church.
Preying on Children With Bait and Convert Tactics?
As reported last year, CEF's activities in the United States are not exclusively centered on the school year. Volunteers "take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to where the children are this summer — parks, community centers, apartment complexes, boys and girls clubs and recreational centers" and draw children in with fun activities and peer pressure. Once the kids are pulled in, the evangelists then have events that are targeted at the parents, such as family sporting events and other activities that the children are encouraged to invite their parents to attend in the hopes that the entire family will then go to church. This is part of the "Good News Across America" program. Children in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, will be targeted next month.